Ulster County Sherrif Suspends Warrant Checks at DSS
By James Nani Times Herald-Record Posted Nov. 18, 2014 @ 8:19 pm
KINGSTON - Ulster County Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum backed down Tuesday evening on his new protocol of doing warrant checks on everyone walking into county Social Services.
"I am willing to suspend it," Van Blarcum announced to an Ulster County committee meeting Tuesday night.
In exchange, Ulster County Legislator Tracey Bartels agreed to draw back her proposal to throw out the entire Ulster County Sheriff's Office division from county buildings and hire private security.
But Bartels, a Democrat from Gardiner, made it clear to Van Blarcum that she wasn't satisfied with simply suspending the policy.
"I want it ceased," Bartels said.
Bartels had authored an amendment to Ulster County Executive Mike Hein's 2015 proposed budget to cut $926,805 from the county's building security division. That would have removed three sheriff's deputies and fired seven security guards.
Bartels has decried the practice of running warrant checks on everyone who walks into the county's DSS building, joining a chorus of civil rights organizations that said the practice stigmatizes those in need. They also say the protocol potentially violates the civil rights of those entering the building.
Just a few minutes before he made his announcement, Van Blarcum had said he not only believed in the practice but liked to expand the practice into all county buildings.
Starting last month, deputies began asking for identification at the door of DSS to check warrants.
County DSS Commissioner Michael Iapoce has said he initially allowed the warrant-check policy, but backed off after public outcry. He then asked Van Blarcum to put it on hold. He refused.
County legislators now say they'll draft a countywide policy to address the issue in all buildings.